When Distractions Keep Us from Our Kids

“Mom. Mom. Mom!”

I looked up at my son. “I’m sorry. What?” I asked.

“Did you hear anything I said?”

“No,” I admitted.

“I think you are addicted to your phone,” he remarked.

Justifications and excuses lingered on the tip of my tongue. I wanted to tell him about the “important” email I had to send. But the truth is, he was right.

The Pull of Technology

I recently wrote an article about investing the limited time we have with our children. One of the biggest drains of our time is technology because of the access it gives us to a virtual life. Our lives revolve around this access and its pull on us is strong. There’s always email to check, texts to respond to, statuses to update, images and videos to see or post. And they must be done right away (or so we think) — putting everything else on pause.

No doubt, technology provides many benefits to our lives. But we can’t be naïve to the consequences, including primarily its impact on our in-person relationships. It entices us away from face-to-face contact and real authentic connections. More often than not, it’s a time waster. It sucks us in and consumes hours. We think we are logging in to check one thing and an hour later we finally come up for air. The limited granules in the sands of our life’s clock trickle down while our fingers swipe and click our days away. And like my son reminded me, how much of real life is missed when our eyes are glued to the screen of our virtual life?

Technology, like anything good, can turn sour when our hearts distort its role. The ability we have to read emails, texts, and status updates gives us a rush. It’s fun, and we just keep going back for more. But time is too valuable. It is a treasure in its own right. And make no mistake: the inordinate use of technology lusts for our time — our treasure — which lusts for our hearts. It subtly moves in and tries to prop up the idol of self, attempting to convince us that the virtual world of “me, myself, and I” is more important than the real life happening right in front of us.

When I really think about it, my heart is convicted. I don’t want my kids to think that I care more about responding to a message than I do about them. When I consider how much time I have wasted, time I will never get back, I’m doubly convicted. Guilt settles in. I try harder and set rules for my use of technology. I resolve to not be consumed by it.

But then sooner or later I fail again.

His Grace Is Stronger

Scripture touches all areas of our life, including this battle with how we use technology. In his letter to the Romans, Paul speaks about his own battle with sin. He expressed a frustration to which we can all relate, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Romans 7:15). We are all sinners. “There is no one righteous, not one” (Romans 3:10). As long as we live in this world, we will battle against our sinful nature. But Paul points us to the source of our help, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God — through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24–25).

Many of us may realize the pull that technology has on us and feel the weight of our guilt because of the wasted time. But like Paul says, Jesus is our rescuer. He came to redeem us from each and every sin, including the squandering away our time on the iPhone. His perfect life has become ours. His sacrificial death paid our debt in full. What this means is that the work of Christ is sufficient and complete to cover all our sins and empower our fight in the struggle.

Every time we fail and stumble in this battle against sin, we need to return to the gospel over and over again. Though the pull of sin is strong, and though technology tempts us with its false claims of affirmation, success, and importance, the power of God’s grace is stronger.

It is his grace that saves us from the power of sin and it is his grace that saves us from the presence of sin in our daily lives. The cross stands there for us, not as a one-time source for forgiveness and assurance of eternal salvation, but also as a source of grace for each moment of our days. And as we turn from our sin in repentance, we can respond in thanksgiving to our gracious God because though we are more sinful than we ever thought, we are also more loved and more forgiven than we will ever know.

You know it and I know it, there are more important things in our life than what our computers and phones and online platforms have to offer. As we seek to redeem our time for eternity, we must rest in the grace of Christ and cling to this promise: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).